On August 28, the President approved Gov. Edwards’ Federal Emergency Declaration request
for Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, Jefferson Davis, and Vermillion Parishes and ordered Federal assistance to supplement state, tribal and local response efforts due to the emergency conditions resulting from Tropical Storm Harvey.
But Louisiana appears to have been mostly spared, even though rain gauges showed up to 22 inches in some areas. There was some major flooding in the southwest area, but then mostly moderate flooding or minor elsewhere.
In Texas the rainfall topped records with over four feet of rain being reported and deaths have edged up over 60. Estimated loss in property damage continues to climb and USA Today reporting that the $190 billion loss would make it the most costly natural disaster in modern history.
The property loss, along with the psychological impacts, will be the most significant for many. The average person in the US does not have $500 in savings, and when the flood victims say they’ve “lost everything,” they mean it just that way.
Many from Louisiana rushed to help in Texas, with donations, services, cash and setting up shelters.
Dr. Mark Crosby, who led in recovery for the Watson, Louisiana community, ground zero for the Flood of 2016, told the Times, “We’re sending supplies.”
Crosby said, “The first thing people want is to know someone cares,” he said. “Teams, crews, family and friends coming in to help is important. Next, financial assistance, gift cards, cash. No clothes. No clichés. Someone to listen.”
Houston’s woes follow on the heels of what some in the Baton Rouge area are still attempting to recover from, the Flood of 2016. Like in Harvey, the August ‘16 flood was bizarre rainfall event that was, “…unlike anything we have ever seen before,” Crosby said last year. “The Flood of 2016 will go down in the history books as one of the worse natural disasters in our community, Crosby said. Harvey, however, has rewritten the history books with over 50 inches
of total rainfall being reported.
However, over the last generation, Katrina remains the most expensive and fatal of all the storms. Using data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Moody’s analytics, and New York Times, the website fivethirtyeight.com lists the top five storms:
1. Hurricane Katrina, Aug. 25, 2005. Damages were $160.0 billion and deaths at 1,833. 2. Hurricane Sandy, Oct. 30, 2012. Damages were $70.2 billion and deaths at 159. 3. Hurricane Rita, September 20, 2005. Damages were $23.7 billion and deaths at 119. 4.Hurricane Ike, September 12, 2008. Damages were $34.8 billion and deaths at 112. 5. Hurricane Hugo, September 21, 1989. Damages were $34.8 billion and deaths at 112.
Harvey stands to top Katrina in property damage, but many predict that Houston will recover, driven by its economic stability and business culture. But twelve years later, New Orleans is still not fully recovered. Today, the city is only 80 percent of the population prior to Katrina.
A US attorney for the Eastern District said that many companies left after Katrina and did not return because of the state’s acceptance of corruption. Former Representative Billy Tauzin characterized the state: “Half of Louisiana is under water and the other half is under
indictment.” Following Katrina a Senate seat flipped to Republican and so did the governor’s office. The New Orleans Mayor was sent to jail for bribery charges and the Democratic congressman was also convicted.
Rebuilding, even for Houston will take time. “The problem for so many is rebuilding,” said Crosby, “relocating and restarting their lives as schools try to reopen, as businesses try to salvage their operations and as neighborhoods …” he said. And just as the clean-up starts in Texas and Louisiana, here comes Irma and Jose.